Sharing the pain: Hong Kong protesters invest in arrested mogul’s pro-democracy newspaper
Supports of campaigner Jimmy Lai are buying stocks in his media company
Pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong are flexing their economic muscles to strike back at Beijing following the arrest of media mogul and activist activist Jimmy Lai.
“Mr Lai, whose Apple Daily tabloid is known for its vocal criticism of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, has been accused of crimes including colluding with foreign forces,” the Financial Times reports. He was released on bail this morning after being detained under draconian new security laws on Monday.
Shares in his company, Next Digital, initially dropped on news of his arrest. But just hours later, they “rocketed as online pro-democracy activists called on investors to snap up the shares”, the newspaper continues.
“At its highest point, the stock had surged nearly 2,200%,” Quartz reports. “The rally has boosted the company’s market value from around HK$238m [£24m] to $2.9bn [£2.2bn].”
The exponential growth ran out of steam earlier today, however, when Hong Kong’s financial regulator said it would investigate the stock’s performance.
“Brokers said concerns that the Securities and Futures Commission might halt trading prompted the sell-off,” Reuters reports.
Lai’s supporters have also been expressing their support in more traditional ways, “lining up at news stands across the city” to buy a copy of his newspaper “in a bid to help the publication - and press freedom - survive”, says Press Gazette.
The paper reported losses of more than £40m last financial year, adds Quartz, in part due to “a years-long boycott by advertisers wary of the paper’s politics”.
Lai is the most prominent victim yet of Hong Kong’s new national security laws, which came into force in June. Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said at the time that the legislation marked “the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before”.